ok, someday soon i’ll get back to beautiful mid century houses scattered throughout l.a.
but for now: another beautiful old theater downtown.
speaking of downtown: if you’re interested to know what times square looked like in 1978 you have two options.
option 1-build a time machine and go back to times square in 1978.
option 2-walk up and down broadway in downtown los angeles.
oh, if for some reason you do have a time machine, please let me know, as there are lots of places from the past and future i’d
like to visit.
for starters: a weekend in nyc in 1978. start the night at studio 54 with mick and bianca, and then end the night at max’s kansas city with andy warhol and lou reed.
that seems like a good use of/for a time machine, right?
ok, back to buildings (as it is, sadly, 2013).
the tower theater.
one of the most beautiful theaters downtown.
and also, as is the case with most of the beautiful theaters downtown, sitting empty.
or, as far as i can tell: sitting empty.
come on, rich fancy developers: stop building new theaters, ok?
the world doesn’t need more new generic theaters.
the world DOES need for these old, beautiful palaces to be cared for and preserved.
once they’re gone: they’re gone.
and no glut of new, generic, crappy, synthetic theaters can ever replace them, not ever.
ok, on behalf of the beautiful neglected theaters of the world: thanks for listening.
one of the best things about l.a in the winter is/are the storms that come in off of the pacific (at least i assume that’s where they come from).
they come in, batter the city for a day or two, and then go away, leaving l.a scrubbed clean and clear.
here are 3 pictures i took yesterday, from right after the last storm left.
ok. this house has fascinated me for a few years now.
here’s what i know:
- it’s in the middle of hollywood.
- it’s hidden in plain sight.
- it doesn’t seem to have a driveway.
- it might not actually exist.
- i can see it from the other side of the canyon, but when i’ve tried to look for it up close it disappears.
granted, there might be banal and pedestrian explanations for why it doesn’t actually exist and why it seems to disappear when i look for it up close. but who wants banal and pedestrian explanations for things that are interesting and mysterious?
to that end:
i almost feel that humanity as a whole suffered a great loss when cartographers stopped writing ‘here there be monsters’ at the edge of ocean maps.
why not just keep writing ‘here there be monsters’?
that’s way more interesting than writing ‘here there be some normal cities you’ll probably never visit.’
or when the monster at the end of scooby doo was revealed to be a local hardware store employee.
why not leave things vague?
to be clear:
i’m not saying that there are monsters in this little cabin.
i’m not saying anything about it, except that it might only partially exist, like a little urban rural brigadoon.
it could, of course, be the home and headquarters for a group of crime fighting animals. i’m not saying it IS, but if someone forced me to come up with
an explanation of how and why there’s a driveway-less cabin in the middle of hollywood i’d be forced to say ‘it’s the home and headquarters for a group of crime fighting animals.’
during the day they hang out and sleep and put things in their scrapbooks, and at night they run down the hillside to fight crime.
which might also explain why my neighborhood has a surprisingly low crime rate.
and yes, this is ostensibly a blog about architecture.
and p.s-yes, in case you’re wondering, this hidden in plain sight cabin is in the middle of an urban sprawl of 15,000,000 people.
today we have the beautiful and neglected and dilapidated ‘los angeles’ theater.
i’m going to ask a simple, naive, and rhetorical question: shouldn’t l.a take care of it’s old, beautiful, neglected, and dilapidated theaters?
and, to editorialize a bit, shouldn’t there be a moratorium on building new theaters until the old and beautiful theaters are looked after and cared for and renovated?
i mean, this theater, the ‘los angeles’, is a palace.
and scattered throughout l.a, especially downtown, there are other old theaters that are also palaces.
and once they’re gone they’re gone forever and ever.
here is a link if you want to get involved and help protect and restore l.a’s amazing and sadly neglected theaters.
i’m headed to nyc for a few days (dj’ing in brooklyn on nye, which should be fun).
in the meantime here is l.a at it’s most impressive and glamorous.
the tropicana inn motel.
when i was growing up i had media fueled visions of l.a being a land exclusively comprised of palm trees and movie stars and endless beaches.
then at some point i realized that although there’s no shortage of palm trees, movie stars, and endless beaches in l.a there’s also an endless
supply of borderline squalor.
and that at some point in almost every successful angelenos career they’ll find themselves in a place like the glamorous tropicana inn motel, either
at the beginning, middle or end of their work life(or, oftentimes, at the beginning, middle, and end of their professional lives).
one thing i particularly like about the ‘tropicana inn’ sign is that the owners have smashed the ‘no’ part of ‘no vacancy’.
ok, off to snowy brooklyn for a few days.
ok, here’s clifton’s cafeteria.
my hope, which might seem naive, is that it’s not actually being torn down, but is instead being cleaned up somehow.
call me naive.
clifton’s was where ray bradbury hung out and wrote and ate(for free, as they’d give food to people who couldn’t afford it), and it was also where the los angeles science fiction society had their meetings.
i’m torn, as on one hand i hate to see iconic and wonderful places suffer from neglect, but on the other hand neglected buildings tend to look amazing and entropic, with their peeling paint and walled up windows.
maybe some smart conceptual architect could figure out a way of creating new buildings that are already showing signs of benign entropy?
oh, and it’s december 24th. so, happy december 24th.
it seems fitting to include a building on december 24th that was famous for giving away food to people who couldn’t afford it.
ok, happy december 24th.
when i moved to l.a a couple of years ago i moved into a strange and wonderful old (by l.a standards) house from 1927, but in moving to l.a i also inherited a john lautner guest house from 1962.
so: here are some pictures of my john lautner guest house, which i currently use as my office and studio (studio pictures aren’t include here because, well, as nice as it is it just looks like a studio).
i don’t know how the owner of the house in 1962 was able to talk john lautner into building a guest house on the property.
maybe they were friends?
maybe john lautner was bored and needed some work?
i have no idea.
but i do know that i’m a lucky architecture nerd to be able to commute (25 yards) to my odd little john lautner guest house every morning (oh, i hope it doesn’t sound like i’m bragging. i mean, i guess i am, sort of. but i’m more just sharing my excitement at being able to go to work in a john lautner house every morning).
one of my favorite things about the house is lautner’s use of the greenstone. i don’t even know what greenstone is. but he used a lot of it in building the house, both inside and out. i also love that most of the house is clad in glass. although this is confusing to some people and dogs, as i’ve had a few instances where both people and dogs have stumbled into the glass. luckily neither person nor dog nor glass have been injured.
oh, a caveat/admission: i made one slight change…the original staircase going up to the roof had been painted brown at some point, so i removed the original brown painted fiberglass and put in translucent fiberglass in a steel frame. this way the light comes in and it generally looks nicer than brown painted fiberglass. i work under the assumption that lautner wouldn’t mind.
i was in san francisco for a few days, and while there i went to muir woods. which, not to indulge in hyperbole, might possibly be the most beautiful place i’ve ever seen.
san francisco is a beautiful city with lots of beautiful buildings. but i decided to take pictures of this oddball fairytale building because it was cute and made no sense to me, much in the fantastic way most of l.a’s buildings make no sense to me.
maybe it’s a hogwarts recruitment office. maybe it’s where hobbits fix shoes. i have no idea.
but it’s cute. and weird.
then when i got back to l.a i documented the glamor in my neighborhood by taking a picture of an entropy covered freeway sign and a strip mall sign that is kind of baffling in it’s diversity. stop for 5 minutes in this cosmopolitan strip mall and you could get japanese food, croissants, good ole american donuts, mexican food, and some sort of east asian bbq, whatever that might be.
hmm.. maybe we americans should see our collective obesity as a sign of cultural appreciation? like: ‘i’m not a xenophobe. look, i’m eating japanese food, mexican food, bbq, and donuts all at the same time.’
ok, that’s all i have for now.
more later now that i’m back in l.a.
and i intentionally left my real camera in the car when i went to muir woods because i knew that it was a fool’s errand to try and seriously represent/document just how amazing it was.
yesterday i was driving through the odd part of east hollywood that is sometimes known as thai town or little armenia or east hollywood or hollywood or the boulevard of broken dreams or, as i like to call it: home.
and while driving through home (or home adjacent) i stumbled upon this giant orthodox church cathedral that also looks like a giant orthodox space ship.
and yes, that’s academic architectural writing at it’s finest, to compare a beautiful house of worship to a spaceship.
but i’m neither academic nor an architect, so i’m giving myself a pass.
and yes, it looked, and looks, like a spaceship.
and yes, it’s gigantic.
well, by east hollywood standards, where very few things are actually more than a couple of stories tall.
except the hills. they are more than a couple of stories tall.
and i’m proud of my ignorance as regards this orthodox space ship.
i don’t know when it was built, i don’t know who built it, and in my extreme ignorance i don’t even know what faith it represents (armenian orthodox would be my vaguely educated guess).
but contextually and aesthetically it’s amazing, as spaceships usually are.
i’ll stop rambling now, as it’s late and i should probably go to sleep rather than advertise my ignorance by writing about orthodox spaceships.
thanks, and good night.
ok, i want to write something insightful and germane and erudite about this crazy plant covered house.
but instead i’ll just write that it’s a crazy plant covered house hidden in plain sight in the middle of hollywood in the shadow of paramount.
and it reminded me that if you come to l.a and see only banal beige buildings then you’re not looking hard enough.
there are countless treasures hidden throughout l.a (especially in weird old hollywood), but you have to make an effort to find them.
see, going to nyc and finding the empire state building is easy.
going to london and finding big ben is easy.
but coming to hollywood and finding completely odd and baffling old estates that are completely covered in vines and plants and trees, like some residential angkor wat, is trickier.
but they’re everywhere. you just have to look.
it’s almost as if hollywood presents this banal facade to the people who give it a passing glance, but it reveals phenomenally odd and interesting details to anyone who’s willing to take the time to look closer.
i love this odd angkor wat-y vine covered crazy house, sitting on a random side street in hollywood, just waiting for anyone to notice it.
p.s-oh, and don’t be fooled, even the banal beige buildings have odd and byzantine details and histories and secrets.
p.p.s-the photos here that look like photos of plants are actually photos of the house. literally the house is almost completely covered by and obscured by trees and plants and vines. i think it’s mini hogwarts in southern california.